• Run out of wrapping paper? Here are some potential alternatives: plain brown shopping bags, cut open and decorated with stickers or markers; several layers of tissue paper; fabric and a nice bow. Aluminum foil makes a lovely wrapping if you can avoid overhandling it, and handle bags from stores can be converted by gluing or taping the front of a Christmas card over the store logo, if it’s small enough.
• Holiday gatherings can be hectic when it comes to holding on to your cup. If you host a party, use disposable cups that can be written on, and put out a marker. You’ll use fewer cups, meaning there will be less to clean up.
• Get kids in on the act of cooking. There’s no better time than the holidays to get budding chefs into your family’s holiday traditions. Let them help prep, and as they get older, assign cherished side dishes to appropriate age children.
• “Wrap books in pretty paper to make a uniform look on your bookshelves.” — J.K. in Florida
• “When baking with apples, try using a variety of types for a more interesting flavor and texture: Mix Golden Delicious, Gala and Fuji with Granny Smith for a little taste of tart.” — M.C. in Oregon
• With the holidays approaching, now is a good time to run the self-cleaning cycle on your oven. Wipe out any bits first, and remove as much grease as you can. Then make sure to open a window to air out fumes.
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